Toxic Shock Syndrome: Are There Dangers to Using Menstrual Cups?

Toxic Shock Syndrome: Are There Dangers to Using Menstrual Cups?

Menstrual cups (or mooncups) are touted as safe, eco-friendly alternatives to tampons, but can they really cause conditions like Toxic Shock Syndrome just like tampons? This study thinks so.

They are touted as safe, eco-friendly alternatives to tampons, but are there menstrual cup dangers we are not yet aware of?

Menstrual cups, or mooncups, work differently than tampons. While tampons absorb menstrual blood, mooncups gather it inside a soft flexible cup. They’re also reusable, making them economical as well as eco-friendly.

Menstrual Cup Dangers: Are Tampons Still Safer?

While some would say menstrual cups pose fewer risks than tampons, others would argue that tampons are the better choice.

A recent study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology states that menstrual cups are not necessarily safer than tampons. 

It claims that there are menstrual cup dangers worth watching out for.

One major risk, the study says, is Toxic Shock Syndrome, a condition normally associated with tampon use. 

Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is rare and dangerous bacterial infection. It happens when dangerous bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus, finds its way into the bloodstream. This bacteria stimulates the production of toxins. 

Some say leaving a tampon in for too long attracts bacteria and causes infection. There have even been cases of TSS resulting in death

The study goes on to explain that it does not matter if you use tampons or menstrual cups. This is because whatever material it’s made out of — organic or regular cotton, rayon or blend — it won’t have an effect on the growth of bacteria. 

menstrual cup dangers

Menstrual cup dangers can be avoided with proper hygiene. | Image source: Shutterstock

How Can You Protect Yourself From Menstrual Cup Dangers?

The study does not discourage the use of tampons or menstrual cups. Rather, they want to stress the importance of taking the following necessary precautions.

When using tampons:

  • Don’t wear tampons to bed. 
  • Wear them no more than four to six hours — max.
  • Only use one tampon at a time!
  • Use tampons that are not super absorbent. Go for lightly absorbent ones.

When using menstrual cups:

  • Wash your hands before inserting the cup.
  • Clean it well before reusing it!
  • Don’t leave them in for more than 12 hours.
  • Don’t leave a menstrual cup in overnight. 
  • Make sure to empty it at least two to three times a day. 
  • While some types can be left in during sex, other types have to be removed. Make sure to consult your gynaecologist before having intercourse. 
  • If you have an intrauterine device (IUD), consult your doctor before switching to mooncups to avoid menstrual cup dangers like dislodging IUDs. 

Another study also shed light on the case of a 37-year-old woman who suffered TSS because of a menstrual cup. She was admitted to the hospital and was given an antibiotic regimen.

You should also never forget these early symptoms of Toxic Shock Syndrome: 

  • racing heart sensation
  • feeling lightheaded
  • a sudden fever
  • an unexplained rash
  • abdominal cramps

Don’t hesitate to consult your doctor before you make the switch to menstrual cups. And make sure that you are not putting yourself at risk when that time of the month rolls around!


Sources: Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology, Applied and Environmental Microbiology Journal, Healthline, Today

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Written by

Bianchi Mendoza

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